Old-School 80’s Mecha Anime to Check out

Today we are going to take a look at some great Mecha Anime from the 80s including some really good retro titles.

Mobile Suit Gundam (機動戦士ガンダム)

In Universal Century 0079, humanity is once again at war. A space colony named Side 3 has proclaimed itself the Principality of Zeon and separated from the Earth Federation. During a raid on the Side 7 colony, a group of civilians, military recruits, and a rookie ensign are forced to flee aboard an untested ship that carries experimental Federation mobile suits. Among them is Amuro Ray, who had piloted the Gundam during the Side 7 attack. Despite his reluctance, he is given the task of using the Gundam in the war against Zeon due to his exceptional skills.

Opinion: This is the show that started the gigantic multimedia franchise that Gundam is today. And it’s well deserved. The first Gundam isn’t a very well-animated show, but it makes up for it with great characters and a political/war story that was simply unheard of in previous Mecha shows. Pitting humans against humans instead of aliens or giant monsters made Gundam stand apart from Mazinger Z and other series like it. The world-building is also pretty impressive for a show that old, and it especially engages the viewer when the setting is actually quite believable.

  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Original run: April 7, 1979 – January 26, 1980
  • Episodes: 43
  • Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino
  • Creator: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Fang of the Sun Dougram (太陽の牙ダグラム)

Crinn Cashim is part of a group called “Fang of the Sun,” and he uses a giant robot called “Dougram” to fight against the Earth Federation, who are occupying the planet Deloyer. His goal is to gain independence and freedom for Deloyer.

  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Original run: October 23, 1981 – March 25, 1983
  • Episodes: 75
  • Creator: Ryosuke Takahashi
  • Director: Ryosuke Takahashi

Opinion: One of the aspects I enjoyed the most about this series was the fact that it pit a son against his father. The son is the one leading the charge for the independence of the planet Deloyer, while his father was the one who was trying to prevent it. This gives the show a realistic flair where members of a family can have wildly different political differences. This is a great show with a big focus on planetary politics but unfortunately, it has a lot of unnecessary episodes that don’t add much to the overall plot.

Combat Mecha Xabungle (戦闘メカ ザブングル)

In a world with two societies, Innocent and Civilians, Jiron Amos desires vengeance against the outlaw who killed his parents. However, in a society where Civilian crimes are only punishable if not brought to justice within three days, he feels helpless. To take matters into his own hands, Jiron steals the mecha Xabungle and joins a group of bandits known as the Sandrats. As Jiron’s quest for revenge unfolds, his actions spark a rebellion against the Innocent.

  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Original run: February 6, 1982 – January 29, 1983
  • Episodes: 50
  • Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino
  • Creator: Sunrise

Opinion: Xabungle starts out as good fun as the characters are all hyperactive and fun to look at, but as the series goes on, the story got much darker. Admittedly, the plot wasn’t very memorable but its characters’ energy was enough to make it one of the 80s’ greatest mecha hits. It’s unfortunately very underrated and also unheard of in most anime circles, even among mecha ones.

Aura Battler Dunbine (聖戦士ダンバイン

Sho Zama, a promising motorcycle racer, finds himself transported to Byston Well, a world that looks like medieval Europe but with giant robots known as aura battlers. He was taken there by Drake Luft, a power-hungry individual who seeks Sho’s rare aura powers. In this new world, Sho must pilot an aura battler and fight in a war between two warring nations. He is determined to find a way back to his world, but the conflict keeps expanding, making it difficult to leave.

  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Original Run: February 5, 1983 – January 21, 1984
  • Episodes: 49
  • Creator: Yoshiyuki Tomino
  • Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Opinion: This is arguably the first isekai to officially exist. It’s a decent show with a lot of action, with characters you don’t want to let go, but like all anime directed by Tomino, this one tends to drag unnecessarily towards the final arc. But other than that, I would still recommend it just for idea of having giant robots in a fantasy setting.

Amored Trooper Votoms (装甲騎兵ボトムズ)

Chirico Cuvie is a soldier who becomes disillusioned with war after years of fighting between the nations of Gilgamesh and Balarant. During a mission, he finds a container with a beautiful woman inside, who turns out to be the key to a dark political plot. Chirico becomes haunted by the memories of this woman and the betrayal of his superiors. He must uncover the truth behind the war and his own existence.

  • Studio: Studio Sunrise
  • Original Run: April 1983 – March 1984
  • Episodes: 52
  • Creator: Ryosuke Takahashi
  • Director: Ryosuke Takahashi

Opinion: This is by far my favourite 80s mecha anime. The low sci-fi aesthetic sold the premise to me. In some ways it’s similar to Gundam in that the world involves two factions warring it out for supremacy, but where it’s different is that the focus is on the main character and his experiences rather than the ongoing war. Furthermore, it also has some supernatural aspects embroiled in conspiracy in the final arc that make this show a lot more intriguing as well.

Blue Comet SPT Layzner (蒼き流星SPTレイズナー)

In 1996, the US and Soviet Union space race has expanded to Mars, as tension between the superpowers continue to escalate. The student-run Cosmic Culture Club arrives at a UN base on Mars, only to be attacked by an unknown force using giant mechas. Eiji, a renegade mech pilot and defector from a race called the Grados, helps repel the attack using the stolen SPT-LZ-00X Layzner. He warns that the Grados are planning to destroy humanity and offers to help Earth, but first he must convince the survivors of the attack that he is telling the truth.

  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Original run: October 3, 1985 – June 26, 1986
  • Episodes: 38
  • Director: Ryousuke Takahashi
  • Creator: Ryousuke Takahashi

Opinion: I enjoyed this series because it’s really two kinds of stories into one. The first arc is like your typical giant robot in space series, but once the 2nd arc hits, it becomes a mecha anime version of Hokuto no Ken where our crew has to fight off the invading Grados. The show ends with a few interesting twists which I will not spoil here. Also, it’s absolutely vital to watch the last OVA episode over the last TV episode as the TV episode was truncated and doesn’t make much sense. The series was cancelled before its proper end so the story had to be properly finished in the OVA series.

Hyper Combat Unit Dangaioh (破邪大星ダンガイオー)

Dr. Tarsan, a scientist, brainwashes four psychic teenagers named Mia Alice, Roll Kran, Lamba Nom, and Pai Thunder to become pilots for his latest invention, the giant robot Dangaioh. However, as their memories gradually return, the pilots team up with Dangaioh to fight against Captain Galimos and the Bunker Space Pirates who are causing trouble.

  • Studio: AIC, Artmic
  • Original run: 1987-1989
  • Episodes: 3
  • Director: Toshihiro Hirano, Tetsuro Amino
  • Creator: Hideki Kakinuma

Opinion: This is a fun super robot show with gorgeous animation and action. It doesn’t overstay its welcome and gets the job done. I can’t tell you much about the plot, as it isn’t the central focus. This is definitely a style over susbstance series but that’s not a bad thing! It also features a great opening by the legendary Ichiro Mizuki.

Gunbuster (トップをねらえ!)

“In the early 21st century, a horde of insect-like aliens are invading the galaxy, seeking new stars as hosts for their offspring. The only hope for humanity are the space cadets, Takaya Noriko and Amano Kazumi. Takaya is the daughter of a celebrated admiral who died in battle, while Kazumi is the top of her class. Equipped with their skills and the powerful mecha, GunBuster, the girls must fight to defend the galaxy from total annihilation by the alien invaders.

  • Studio: Gainax
  • Original run: October 7, 1988 – July 7, 1989
  • Episodes: 6
  • Director: Hideaki Anno
  • Creators: Hideaki Anno, Gainax

Opinion: This is a short series by the very famous anime and movie director, Hideaki Anno. I really enjoyed the time dilation aspects that was explored in the story. That said, while I think it’s a great watch, I do feel the main character was a little too whiny and it took me out of the experience a few times. Don’t let that deter you though because everything else is really good, especially the production values.

Panzer World Galient (機甲界ガリアン)

Jojo and Jirulu discover the resting place of the legendary Iron Giant Galient while exploring a series of caves. After being incapacitated by a blinding light, Jojo awakens in a trance and is able to pilot Galient. Jojo must solve the mystery of his sudden ability to pilot the giant robot and the connection between the mysterious Hirumuka and the lights seen during Galient’s awakening, all while fending off the army of the tyrant Mardoul.

  • Studio: Sunrise
  • Original run: April 1984 – March 1985
  • Episodes: 25
  • Director: Ryosuke Takahashi
  • Creator: Noboru Aikawa

Opinion: Giant robots and medieval fantasy, you can’t go wrong with that. In many ways you could consider this Ryousuke Takahashi’s answer to Dunbine. They both feature medieval settings, and they’re both equally good. Dunbine is the more famous of the two, but there’s just something about the design of Galient that makes this one stand out.


There are other good 80s mecha anime but I didn’t list them since I didn’t watch them, but those include the likes of Macross and Ideon. If you’re looking for something mecha to watch, you can’t go wrong with them. Of course, some of the series will look outdated compared to shinier new anime, but don’t let that be something that prevents you, as these shows often have something that modern anime doesn’t.